While advertisers have yet to pull the plug entirely on their deals with the NFL amid criticism of the league’s handling of violent off-field incidents involving players, they’re still doing something.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, sponsors have been quietly requesting their ads be removed from Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens games in response to the allegations surrounding running backs Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice. In addition, CBS told THR that for their first “Thursday Night Football” game on Sept. 11 — which featured a matchup between the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers — one advertiser pulled out entirely and one asked that their ads were shifted away from talk about domestic violence. The network declined to identify the advertisers.
Because the NFL is so profitable — it brought in $10 billion in revenue in 2013 — it would likely hurt the sponsors more than the league to cut ties. But many sponsors are letting the NFL know that they don’t approve of the way cases in the league have been handled.
Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, Cambell’s Soup, Visa and McDonald’s have all expressed their disapproval with the NFL. Procter & Gamble pulled out of a cancer initiative with the league for the month of October, and Radisson Hotels suspended their sponsorship with the Vikings. Even more media outlets have been openly critical of the NFL.
“I can’t think of a time when we said, ‘We have to be careful because this is a league partner,'” ESPN senior vice president Rob King told The Hollywood Reporter.
And while all of this action likely isn’t hurting the NFL much financially, it’s certainly lighting a fire under them to act quickly on their transgressions.
“Clearly the NFL has their antenna up now,” Fox Sports executive producer John Entz said. “It probably should have been up a long time ago.”
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